Folklore | Heritage & Cultural Property
F804 | 29486 | J. Leon

Fulfills: Area, Theory

At the turn of the twenty-first century, cultural forms, practices
and knowledge are increasingly valued, both locally and globally,
for their perceived ability to act as resources that can lead to
economic development.  In this environment, having access to and
being able to invoke one’s cultural heritage in ways that are at
least partly compatible with Western intellectual property systems,
international cultural policy, and discourses about human and
cultural rights, has become a viable strategy with which different
types of local communities, culture brokers, and nation states have
tried to respond to new challenges and opportunities.  The resulting
complex web of interaction—particularly in reference to how heritage
is defined and who exactly has the right to claim ownership over
that heritage—has become an area of special concern for a number of
folklorists, ethnomusicologist and anthropologists.  This seminar
will examine some of the central debates regarding the various uses
and strategic deployments of the concept of heritage and how these
intersect with the progressive neoliberal reconceptualization of
culture as a collection of goods, skills and services that must be
properly managed if one is to capitalize on its economic potential.
To this end, the course will explore a series of interrelated issues
including a) tanglible and intanglible cultural heritage initiatives
and their effect on local communities, b) the global marketing and
trade of “ethnic” or “traditional” art and music, c) cultural
ownership and the ability of communities to use culture as an
invocation of their cultural rights, and d) the role of archives,
the academy and ethnography in both informing and contesting
particular definitions and uses of heritage.